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Haggard's Law

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The louder and more frequent one's objections to homosexuality are, the more likely one is to be a homosexual.

Haggard's Law is an adage named after Pastor Ted Haggard — despite his not being gay in any way, shape or form. It is used as a purely sarcastic musing that people who strongly object to homosexuality may be likely to engage in homosexual activities, and is based on the numerous public scandals[1][2][3][4] of famous figures who oppose homosexuality and homosexual behavior.

Instances of Haggard's Law are gleefully spread by the media for an audience that revels in such scandalous behavior.[5]


Racists never imagine what it's like to be like the person they hate, homophobes imagine it in graphic detail for hour upon hour.
—Bob Schooley[6][Note 1]

Haggard's Law made its first published appearance in an article[7] written by Dennis DiClaudio of Comedy Central fame and is named after American evangelical preacher Ted Haggard. It was created after and is reference to a scandal[2] involving prostitute and masseur Mike Jones who alleged that Haggard had paid Jones to engage in sex with him for three years and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine.[8] Although Haggard denied using methamphetamine or having sex with Mr. Jones, the scandal has caused many evangelicals to view Haggard as extremely hypocritical about his spoken views,[9] as he was known to publicly preach against homosexuality.[10]

Original quote by author Dennis DiClaudio:[7]

Haggard's Law — The likelihood of a person harboring secret desires to engage in sexual and/or romantic activities with members of the same sex is directly proportional to the frequency and volume of said person's vocalized objections to homosexuality.

The "law" is more generally used to reference hypocrisy in public figures who lead the moral opposition of homosexuality, and then are discovered to have partaken in homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

Is Haggard's law true?[edit]

So far, there are no scientific evidences supporting Haggard's law which, therefore, should be taken only as an ironic term describing some hypocritical homophobes. In fact, testing scientifically if there is some truth in Haggard's law is quite hard, because of the following reasons:

  • There is no easy way to know with certainty the sexual orientation of a person. Statistical studies which rely on the sexual orientations reported by the subjects are hardly useful, since of course no homophobe would reveal their homosexuality. Methods measuring sexual arousal via biometrics are also problematic, because they measure only a physical response to a stimulus, not sexual orientation, and it is possible that similar physical responses are due to completely different psychological reasons. Probably, the only sure way to know the sexual orientation of a person would be spying on them to see if they actively look for and engage in heterosexual or homosexual activities, but of course that poses both ethical and practical problems.
  • The scandals behind the history of Haggard's law, although numerous, are statistically irrelevant with respect to the whole number of homophobes, who have never been caught in homosexual activities. Indeed, believing in Haggard's law because of such scandals is an instance of the Toupée fallacy.

Penile plethysmography[edit]

In a 1996 study,[11] 64 men were assessed by the "homophobia index" and split into two groups: "homophobic" and "non-homophobic." Then, their arousal by homosexual and heterosexual images were measured via penile plethysmography, a rubber gauge used to measure erectile responses. In the "non-homophobic" group, 66% showed no arousal yet in the "homophobic" group only 20% managed to restrain themselves from getting aroused - and significantly underestimated their own arousal.

However, it should be noted that what was measured as arousal may have been the result of the uncomfortable feelings the homophobic group were feeling on seeing homosexual imagery. As pointed out by the authors of the study: "It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se." Hence, this confounding factor may explain the results more consistently.

Implicit measures[edit]

Studies that rely on implicit measures both to gauge a subject's same-sex attractions as well as their level of homophobia do give credence to the suspicion that there is something to Haggard's law.[12]


By a 2011 survey, 33% of the USA population believes that "homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society".[13] On the other hand, another 2011 report estimates that about 8.2% of Americans have engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour.[14]

On the basis of said polls, no more than 24.8% (8.2 / 33) of those 33% of American homophobes — i.e. one in four active gay bashers — could be a closeted homosexual. This means that a literal interpretation of Haggard's Law (e.g. 'homophobe perfectly implies homosexual') fails in at least 75.2% of cases.

However, this conclusion is flawed, as the 8.2% figure only considers those who have admitted to same-sex sexual activity.

Ethical calculus[edit]

It's entirely possible to be raised to believe that homosexuality is evil yet still turn out to be homosexual. There are many ways for the human mind to rationalize this away, where everyone else is a "sinner" but you are unique, or some other cognitive dissonance. But one way to justify "sinning" is to remove more "sin" than you cause, sort of like how every third house fire fighters save they get to light one up for funzies. So if a politician or preacher manages to convince other people to avoid or give up homosexuality, then surely they have made the world "less sinful" and are thus still "good", right?


Haggard's Law could sometimes be a bit of a misnomer as the newly-outed may not only be attracted to their own sex, but "swing both ways." Haggard himself insists that he can still "exclusively have sex with my wife and be permanently satisfied."[15]

Some instances of Haggard's Law[edit]

Question: I'm a 200 percent straight guy, married with children. About six months ago, I went to a masseur who finished things with a terrific blowjob. If you wonder why I didn't stop him, the truth is, I couldn't, because he was massaging my asshole with his thumb while blowing me. […]
Answer: Mr. 200 Percent Straight couldn't stop the big, bad masseur from giving him a blow job because the masseur had his thumb up Mr. 200 Percent Straight's butt. What, is there a system override switch in straight men's butts? Can't… move… thumb… in… ass… send… help! Come on. I've had my thumb in a few butts, provoking reactions ranging from delight to disgust, but it has never, ever, not once, paralyzed a sex partner or struck him dumb. […]
—Answered by Dan Savage[16]
  • Ken Adkins, a notoriously anti-homosexual pastor who made the news for attacking the victims of the Orlando shooting, was arrested in August 2016 for not merely being gay, but having molested a young boy who was a member of his church. Ironically, one of his chosen lines of attack seems to have been that all gay and trans people were paedophiles, as he was banned by court order from using the phrase "child molester" without proof after numerous attacks on a local school board member via social media.[17][18]
  • Gary Aldridge, pastor at Thorington Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, was found dead of autoerotic asphyxiation while wearing two complete rubber wetsuits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, reportedly with one dildo in the anus covered with a condom. You read that correctly.[19][20]
  • Bob Allen, anti-gay Florida politician who sponsored a failed bill to outlaw homosexual acts, was convicted of solicitation after offering to perform oral sex on a (male) undercover police officer.[21]
  • Tony Anatrella, an ex-Vatican advisor and conversion therapy practitioner, is now defrocked and facing a sexual abuse trial over allegations he molested several of the men he was meant to be "curing" and claimed he could cure them by having sex with them.[22]
  • Ernest Angley, internationally known televangelist, sued for sexual abuse by a former pastor, and caught on tape admitting to a homosexual encounter.[23]
  • Roy Ashburn, Californian anti-gay politician caught on a DUI after picking a man up at a gay bar.[24]
  • Congressman Bob Bauman, who supported a bill that would allow discrimination against gay people, lost his 1980 re-election bid after being arrested for soliciting a teen boy for sex.[25]
  • Randy Boehning, a North Dakota lawmaker who voted against expanding protections for gay people, was outed after a man he sent explicit messages to on Grindr recognised him from the TV.[26]
  • Alan Chambers was responsible for founding Exodus International, the largest conversion therapy ministry in the world. However, after seeing the devastating effects of California Proposition 8 he shut Exodus down and apologised. Chambers would later come out of the closet and describe himself as "a gay man married to a straight woman.[27]
  • Republican lawmaker Richard Curtis, who voted against a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, was exposed as having slept with another man in 2007.[31]
  • Congressman David Dreier was exposed for having an affair with his male chief of staff in 2004. Dreier has a history of voting against pro-gay legislation such as the Federal Hate Crime Bill and supported the Defense of Marriage Act.[32]
  • Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines and homophobe, says he "cured himself" of homosexuality.[33]
Official photo of Mark Foley. "What, me? That kid? Naw, never!
  • McKrae Game, one of the most prominent homophobes in the USA and supporter of conversion therapy, came out as gay in 2019.[38][39][27]
  • Wes Goodman, Republican state legislator for Ohio, resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.[40]
  • Marc Goodwin, sent to prison for murdering a gay man in a homophobic attack, later became one of the first two men to receive a gay marriage in a British prison.[41]
  • Petras Gražulis, a member of the Lithuanian parliament who gained notoriety for comparing homosexuality to necrophilia and telling gay people to leave the country,[42] was caught out in an online meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic when he accidentally switched his camera on to reveal a half-naked man standing behind him.[43]
  • Matthew Grech became a poster boy for the ex-gay movement after appearing in Core Issues Trust's documentary film Once Gay to talk about his conversion to evangelical Christianity and his decision to stop having gay relationships. However, in an interview with the LGBT news outlet PinkNews, Grech admitted to still having homosexual feelings.[44]
  • Phillip Hinkle received multiple calls to resign from the Indiana State Legislature after being caught offering an 18-year-old man $140 to have sex with him. Hinkle previously voted in favour of outlawing same-sex marriage.[45]
  • Troy King resigned as Attorney General of Alabama after being caught in bed with another man by his wife. King is virulently anti-gay and has called homosexuality "the downfall of society".[46]
  • Eddie Long was the senior clergyman at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a 25,000 member megachurch in Lithonia, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. In what has become an almost timelessly classic Christian story line, in September 2010 the homophobic minister was accused of coercing young men into sexual activity. Several plaintiffs brought suit against the heretofore triumphant exponent of the prosperity gospel. Describing Long as a 'monster' in an interview with WAGA-TV in Atlanta, one of Long's victims alleged that he offered "holy scripture to justify and support the sexual activity." [47]
  • Pastor Matthew Makela, a married father of five, reportedly routinely argued gay people should sublimate their same-sex desires—while he was simultaneously chatting up guys on Grindr.[48]
  • John Martin, who was arrested after tearfully confessing to molesting a teenage boy, reportedly spent four years giving sermons about the evils of homosexuality.[49]
  • David Matheson was a Mormon known for his decades-long work in the field of conversion therapy and encouraging gay people to remain celibate so as to avoid "sinning".[51] Matheson is now mostly remembered for validating Haggard's Law after writing a Facebook post in which he admitted to divorcing his wife and looking for a relationship with another man. This admission came following the gay rights group Truth Wins Out leaking private Facebook conversations with conversion therapist Rich Wyle in which he accused Matheson of being gay.[52] Matheson has since embraced his true nature and begun dating men.[53]
  • Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington and known opponent of same-sex marriage,[54] was defrocked in 2019 for allegedly sexually abusing children and young adult males.[55]
  • Frazier Glenn Miller, mass shooter and KKK leader, had reportedly been arrested before after being caught with a black male prostitute in his car.[58]
  • Matt Moore, who claimed to be ex-gay thanks to religion, was found using gay hook up services.[59]
  • Glenn Murphy, leader of the Young Republicans and vocal supporter of "traditional family values",[60] was arrested for sexually assaulting a male acquaintance in his sleep.[61][4]
  • Matthew Dennis "Denny" Patterson, pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, was arrested in 2018 for molesting multiple children, mostly boys, over the course of his 20 year ministry.[62]
  • Possibly Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, according to former church member Lauren Drain.[64]
  • Barry Poyner, a church leader and university professor at Truman State University in northeastern Missouri, was charged with patronizing prostitution after allegedly trying to solicit an 18-year-old man on Grindr with offers of an Arby’s gift card and gas money.[65][66][67]
  • Timothy Lee Reddin, anti-gay pastor from Turner Street Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was arrested in August 2018 for soliciting what he thought was a 14-year-old boy for sex online.[68][69]
  • George Rekers is a Southern Baptist minister and typical religious right activist who has written numerous books about the evils of homosexuality. Rekers has long been affiliated with James Dobson and the Family Research Council, as well as appearing as an "expert" witness in several court cases espousing how homosexuals aren't fit to raise children, and so should be prohibited from adoption.[70][71] He also testified on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America in support of their gay ban. When a judge was suspicious of Rekers' testimony, describing it as "extremely suspect" and said that Rekers "was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology", Rekers went on a tantrum describing the trial as "utterly corrupt".[70] In May of 2010, he was spotted returning to Miami International Airport with a young Hispanic gentleman hired "to carry his bags". Like all baggage assistants, the young man had been hired from a website entitled "".[72] Much hilarity ensued, of course, with Rekers even admitting he had hired the boy from the escort website—while still insisting he had only hired him for "baggage handling".[Note 2] At UCLA in the early 1970s, Rekers ran "The Sissy Boy Experiment", a reparative therapy program. The program came under intense media scrutiny following the suicide of Kirk Murphy, whose parents enrolled him in the program when he was five years old. Murphy suffered physical abuse as part of the plan to cure him of his feminine behavior. Murphy's family blames the program for his depression and eventual suicide.[73][74]
  • Aaron SchockWikipedia, Republican former representative for the Illinois 18th congressional district, who is mostly (in)famous for misusing election funds and consistent opponent of LGBTQI rights in general,[75] finally admits it after a year or more of "working through a list of people who I felt should should finally hear the news directly from me before I made a public statement."[76]
  • Bill Sanderson, a family values conservative Christian Republican lawmaker from Kenton, Tennessee, resigned his seat on the same day it was revealed that he was allegedly using the online dating service Grindr to hook up with gay men.[77][78]
  • Homophobic legislator Ed Schrock dropped out of the Virginia legislative race after audio recordings came to light of Schrock arranging liaisons with other men.[79]
  • Congressman Ralph Shortey was jailed for 15 years in 2018 for sex trafficking after being caught with an underage male prostitute.[80] Shortey was a previously a traditional family values politician and helped pass a bill legalising anti-LGBT discrimination.[81]
  • József SzájerWikipedia, Hungarian former Member of the European Parliament, who when helping draft the 2010 Hungarian Constitution approved a proposal to define marriage as being between man and woman, resigned on 29 November 2020 after getting caught by Belgian police fleeing from a private gay sex party while carrying a backpack that contained an ecstasy pill.[82]
  • Steve Wiles, a Republican candidate for the North Carolina state senate and opponent of same-sex marriage, was exposed as having worked at a gay bar when he was in his 20s, and having performed as a drag queen.[83]
  • Gaylard Williams, (possibly[84] former) pastor of Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, Indiana, arrested for battery after soliciting gay sex at a park. After he was arrested, police discovered a gay porn DVD in his vehicle.[85]

In fiction[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Though, results may vary depending on context.
  2. To "handle" his "junk", perhaps?


  1. Florida State Representative Accused of Offering to Perform Oral Sex Claims Innocence, archived from the original at Fox News, July 27, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Haggard admits 'sexual immorality', apologizes, archived from the original at MSNBC, November 5, 2006.
  3. US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out, BBC News, March 8, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Former GOP Chief Pleads Guilty To Deviant Conduct, archived from the original at WLKY, June 12, 2008.
  5. In How We Lie to Ourselves, author and philosopher Alain de BottonWikipedia explains on YouTube:

    We grow censorious and deeply disapproving of certain kinds of behavior and people.

    What we don't admit is that we're so full of condemnation only because we need to ward off awareness that a part of us, in fact, really likes the condemned element.

    We attack certain sexual tastes as 'utterly deviant!' and 'beyond the pale!' — precisely because we half-know that we share them somewhere inside ourselves.

    So we're delighted when particular people are arrested or shamed in the press — 'what they did was utterly awful!', we insist — our outrage shielding us from any risk of spotting the connection between them and us.

  7. 7.0 7.1 ""Haggard's Law," Please Add It to Your Lexicon", Indecision Forever
  8. Haggard Admits Buying Meth From Gay Escort, CBS News, November 2, 2006
  9. William Crawley, The Rise and Fall of Ted Haggard, BBC News, November 5, 2006
  10. Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp, Seattle Times
  11. Adams; Wright; Lohr (1996). "Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?". Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105 (3): 440-5. 
  12. Psychology Today: Are Homophobic People Really Gay and Not Accepting It?
  13. [1] Do you think homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society? (Worldwide 2011)
  14. [2] "How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?". Williams Institute, University of California School of Law.
  15. Ted Haggard Says He's Bisexual, CBS
  16. Savage Love: Golden Oldie (Aug 4, 2005) The Stranger.
  17. Controversial pastor and activist Kenneth Adkins charged with child molestation in Brunswick
  18. Controversial Georgia pastor, political activist arrested for child molestation
  19. One Dildo, Two Wetsuits, One Dead Fundie
  20. Dead Reverend's Rubber Fetish; Autopsy: Pastor found in wet suits after autoerotic mishap. The Smoking Gun, 8 October 2007.
  21. Florida state Rep. Bob Allen guilty in bathroom-sex case, Orlando Sentinel
  22. Ex-Vatican adviser faces trial after claiming he could cure gay men by having sex with them
  23. The Rev. Ernest Angley admitted sexual encounter., 19 January 2019.
  24. US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out, BBC News
  25. A Former Congressman, Once a Staunch Foe of Gay Rights, Confronts His Own Homosexuality
  26. Anti-Gay US Lawmaker Outed Over Explicit Pictures On Grindr
  27. 27.0 27.1 Conversion therapy center founder says he’s gay, rejects ‘cycle of self shame’ in Anchorage Daily News on 4 September 2019.
  28. Thank those who kept Idaho part of round Earth Jim Fisher January 9, 2006 Lewiston Morning Tribune
  29. Sen. Larry Craig Denies Wrongdoing, Leaves Romney Campaign After June Arrest Fox News Monday, August 27, 2007
  30. Steven Crowder is bisexual
  31. The kink of Republican sexual hypocrite Richard Curtis in the news again
  32. Congressman David Dreier: Gay & Ashamed
  33. Homophobic Philippines President Says He 'Cured' Himself of Being Gay Jacob Ogles May 31, 2019 Advocate
  34. Foley Quits In Page Scandal And a page means an underage boy or near underage boy, it doesn't mean a leaf in a book.
  35. Smith, R. Jeffrey "Foley Built Career as Protector of Children" in the Washington Post on 1 October 2006
  36. Nichols, John. "The Problem With the Mark Foley Problem" in The Nation on 6 October 2006
  37. Wagner, James "Ex-congressman Mark Foley helping Nationals find spring training home in Palm Beach County" in the Washington Post on 15 February 2014.
  38. Conversion therapy organization founder comes out as gay: 'Please forgive me' USA Today
  39. Founder of one of nation's largest conversion therapy ministries comes out as gay in the Daily Mail on 3 September 2019.
  40. Christian 'Family Values' Conservative Resigns After Sex in the Office With Another Man., 16 November 2017.
  41. Convicted murderers become first gay couple to marry in prison. The Guardian, 28 March 2015.
  42. Petras Gražulis: all gay people and ambassadors from Lithuania need to be driven out (in Lithuanian)
  43. Lithuanian Anti-LGBTQ Lawmaker Caught with 'Naked' Man During Online Parliamentary Session
  44. Inside the doomed world of gay cure therapy
  45. Anti-gay marriage lawmaker admits paying $80 to meet MALE teen - but INSISTS he's not gay
  46. Alabama A.G. Troy King Preparing to Resign Over Gay Sex Scandal?
  47. Alleged Victim Calls Pastor Eddie Long a "Monster"
  48. Dan Tracer, EXCLUSIVE: Grindr Screenshots Reveal Antigay Pastor Is A Top Who Likes To Cuddle., 18 May 2015.
  49. Anti-gay Alabama pastor confesses in church to molesting underage boy
  50. Camilla Domonoske, Reports: Gunman Had Visited Nightclub Before, Used Gay Dating Apps. 14 June 2016. Retrieved on 14 June 2016.
  51. Man who worked as top 'conversion therapist' comes out as gay The Guardian. 25 January 2019
  52. ‘Intellectual Godfather Of Ex-Gay Therapy’ David Matheson Comes Out Of The Closet 28 March 2019
  53. Prominent US ‘gay conversion therapist’ divorces wife and comes out as gay The Week. 25 January 2019
  54. The Man in the Red Hat
  55. Vatican defrocked former US cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse
  56. Prominent Antigay Evangelical Blogger Outed as Gay, The Advocate
  57. Jonathan Merritt: Come Out
  58. Ex-KKK Leader Was Given a New Identity Years Before Shooting
  59. Matt Moore, 'Ex-Gay' Christian Advocate, Exposed On Grindr, Huffington Post
  60. 10 Anti-Gay Activists... Who Were Outed As Gay
  61. Glenn Murphy Jr. charged with class B felony
  62. Nashville pastor molested at least 8 children during 20 years as church leader, police say., 30 March 2018.
  64. Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps May Be Gay, Suggests Former Member Lauren Drain, HuffPo
  65. Tim Fitzsimons, Professor charged with soliciting 'student' — with an Arby's card. NBC News, 18 December 2019.
  66. John Riley, Anti-gay college professor and church leader accused of soliciting men on Grindr., 17 December 2019.
  67. Evan Hurst, Y'Ain't Ever Had Romance Until You've Met Barry, The Arby's Church DILF. Wonkette, 20 December 2019.
  68. Anti-Gay Pastor Arrested For Attempting To Molest A Child., 12 August 2018.
  69. Pastor who hates gay people busted for soliciting gay minor for gay sex…again., 8 August 2018.
  70. 70.0 70.1 Bob Egelko, Arkansas judge OKs foster care / Gay parents pose no obstacle to kids' growth, court finds., 1 January 2005.
  71. Robyn E. Blumner, Making a loving home for two brothers. Tampa Bay Times, 29 November 2008.
  72. Christian right leader George Rekers takes vacation with "rent boy" Miami New Times, 6 May 2010.
  73. Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says. Anderson Cooper's report on the Sissy Boy Experiment.
  74. Jim Burroway, What Are Little Boys Made Of? Box Turtle Bulletin's analysis of the experiment.
  75. Jonathan Capehart, No Schock in gay gossip. The Washington Post, 7 January 2014.
  76. Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Former US politician Aaron Schock comes out as gay in Instagram post., 6 March 2020.
  77. Steven Hale, 'Family Values' Lawmaker Resigns Ahead of Report on Gay Hookups. Nashville Scene, 25 July 2019.
  78. Hemant Mehta, Anti-LGBTQ TN Lawmaker Was Allegedly Using Grindr to Meet Men; He Just Resigned. The Friendly Atheist at, 24 July 2019.
  79. Va. Legislator Ends Bid for 3rd Term
  80. Former Sen. Ralph Shortey Sentenced In 'Tragedy Of Your Own Making'
  81. Oklahoma GOP senator's fall from power is stunningly fast
  82. Hungarian lawmaker resigns after caught fleeing a 'sex party' by climbing down a drainpipe., 1 December 2020
  83. GOP candidate was once a female impersonator Winston-Salem Journal. 3 May 2014
  84. Travis Gettys, Anti-LGBT Pastor Arrested for Grabbing Man’s Genitals at Indiana Park., 20 December 2014.
  85. Anti-Gay Pastor Gaylard Williams Offers Priceless Responses After Getting Arrested for Groping Unwilling Man., 22 December 2014.